Son of Hot Dog Palace

San Francisco, 1963

I found the Hot Dog Palace one night when I met two college guys with backpacks roaming Broadway. We got into a conversation and decided to go for coffee. The Hot Dog Palace at the triangle of Columbus, Grant, and Broadway was convenient and seemed harmless enough, and cheap. After a while they wandered back out into the night in search of accommodation while I nursed another coffee. For a fast food joint the place seemed unusually agreeable. The jukebox played two tunes again and again, endlessly. For All We Know by Aretha Franklin, who was still a pop singer at that time, and Ramsey Lewis’s Wade in the Water. There was a raised counter on one side behind which a tall black man, whose name turned out to be Edgar Jones, doled out coffee, sandwiches and, of course, hot dogs. In the corner by the Grant Street entrance stood a pinball machine and on the opposite side was the Columbus entrance. Plate glass ran around the remaining walls through which you could see the North Beach night and all its characters, beats, hipsters, tourists, showgirls, and the regular working stiffs who actually lived in the neighbourhood’s hotels and rooming houses.

As the night rolled on the action picked up in The Hot Dog Palace. I was perfectly happy to sit and watch the comings and goings of the various characters. “What time does this place close?” I asked Mr Jones while picking up another refill. “We never close.” Perfect!

I just received the above photo with the following letter:


I could not believe it when I read your piece! My mother owned the Hot Dog Palace! I grew up at that place. My mother sold it in 68 and we moved to Phoenix. I was really upset as it was such a great place to live and the time could not have been better. Thanks for bringing back such vivid memories. I have attached a pic of the place. I have a better one that I need to find as it is a complete pic of the entire exterior.

John Salzman

Read the entire episode: The Hot Dog Palace Never Closes, featuring guest appearances by John Coltrane and Carol Doda.

Comment »

Leave a Reply

Back to top